Tuesday, April 21, 2020

Tuesday 4/21/20 Farmington River Report: Hendrickson hatch is good

We are open 8-5pm daily for curbside pick-up. Call us on the phone at 860-379-1952 before arrival or from the parking lot, tell us what you want and we will take a credit card payment over the phone.

We are also offering limited 1/2 hour shopping appointments in the store from 3pm to 4:30 pm daily, In order to do this under the new regulations, we are limiting to one employee and one customer in the store. These appointments are for those intending to make $200+ purchases, and this will also be the procedure for trades. Call in advance at 860-379-1952.

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This is uncharted territory for all of us, so please be patient as we figure this out and evolve. We are bound by a whole new set of rules & restrictions that is making it much tougher to do business. We will do our absolute best to accommodate all our loyal customers, we appreciate every one of you. Your continued support keeps our store open so we can keep supplying you with the best fly fishing stuff, fly tying materials & flies.
     -Grady & Torrey

Farmington River Report

The Farmington has been stocked five times now since February outside the Permanent TMA/Catch & Release, and last week the CT DEEP stocked the Permanent TMA/C&R. They stock this 6.2 mile section once per year in April with approximately 10,000 brown trout of various sizes including 1,000 large two year olds which average a fat 14-18" and over a couple of pounds. Electrofishing in September 2019 put the estimated trout population at just under 2,000 trout per mile in this section, with many of those being wild & holdover trout, mostly browns, and a small number of rainbows. The recent stocking should temporarily put the population of this section at 3,500+ trout per mile!! And that doesn't even include other stocked trout that have wandered in from above and below the C&R section.

It's a breezy Tuesday morning and cloudy as I write this, T-Storms are predicted for the afternoon (1/2" allegedly). Still getting good reports on a daily basis, with milder days getting better bug activity- the current "Glamour Hatch" is Hendricksons in mid/late afternoon. Streamers, nymphs, and wets/soft-hackles are consistently catching trout subsurface no matter what. They bumped the dam release Monday from 150 up to 400cfs. 675cfs in the Catch & Release is still quite fishable, albeit higher flows typically equate to less rising trout and more subsurface fishing. Big wide pools such as Church Pool can be exceptions to this. Remember to fish the edges when flows are elevated, trout will move closer to shore to get out of the heavier current- don't just wade out up to your waist and start fishing. If you do that, likely you just spooked all the catchable fish. You can also upsize your subsurface flies a bit, and use heavier tippet. "Junk Flies" (Mops, Squirmy Worms, Egg Flies, and Green Weenies) tend to be at their best in elevated flows, doubly so if you are fishing for recently stocked fish. Bigger trout often come out to play after flow increases.

I fished after work Sunday. There were a ton of fishermen out, so I stayed out of the Catch & Release to avoid the worst of the crowds. I found a nice piece of water that I had to myself. Nymphing produced very light hits that I kept missing, so eventually I switched to a Bugger and started picking up fish steadily. The last fish of the evening grabbed my fly in a pool tailout just before dark, and when I got it in my landing net it taped out at 21.5', a pretty holdover Survivor Strain brown with a clipped adipose. Made my evening.

Top pic is a 23.5" broodstock brown lande on a snowy Saturday by customer Chester Cheung, what a thick fish and it's all colored up. 2nd pic is a 22.5" wild brown Zach broke off previously on a dry, and then he redeemed himself on that fish Sunday with a nymph & got his dry fly back. 3rd pic is the deadly BMAR Hendrickson Nymph. 4th pic is the 21.5" holdover brown I got after work on Sunday. Last pic is Gerald Berrafati with a nice Bow he got on Friday.

Remember the old Grey's Streamflex rods? If you liked them, you will love what I'm about to tell you: Fenwick just came out with the new version of the Fenlite Streamflex series using the latest materials that give the rods even better properties like noticeably improved rod recovery and significantly improved durability. These rods feel fantastic in the hand. We got these in Euro specific models, and they have a lower down stripping guide to reduce line sag between the reel and first guide. The 11' #3 & #4 Streamflex have an MSRP of $349.95- we are selling them for $265. The also do a Streamflex Plus that goes from 10' to 10' 6"- a six inch extension piece hides in the handle and can be put in or out in seconds. We have the 10' #3 Streamflex Plus (goes up to 10.5')- MSRP is $379.95, we are selling it for $285.

The Hendrickson hatch is at least as far upriver as the Campground now (likely even further upstream now), look for the upper boundary to move upstream a bit on a near daily basis. It typically starts at 2-3pm and goes until late afternoon, but none of that is set in stone. Soon we should be seeing spinner falls on milder days that aren't windy or rainy. Starting as early as 2pm and also mixed in with Hendricksons  have been hatches of Blue Wing Olives (sz 18), and Winter/Summer Caddis (sz 20-22, more of a morning hatch), Midges #22-28, and a few Blue Quills/Paraleps (sz 16-18) have also been making appearances.

Recently stocked trout often prefer gaudy flies that don't match the hatch, and "Junk Flies" (Mops, Eggs, Worms, and Green Weenies) often reign supreme and outfish normal drabber, more imitative nymphs that we fish most of the time. And sometimes recent intros will prefer a fly that moves or drags in the current, not a dead-dirft presentation, so let your nymphs, streamers & wets swing out at the end of each drift & try twitching them. But, once the trout have been in the river for 3-4 weeks they become attuned to natural food and will start to prefer drabber flies fished on a dead-drift (mostly, with plenty of exceptions). Fishing pressure will also teach them to be suspicious of commonly fished flies. Buggers can be deadly on recently stocked trout- start with olive or black and go from there if you don't get a positive reaction. Also experiment with your retrieve, and try a plain swing with no added action if stripping it in doesn't get a response. 

Specific imitations such as the BMAR Hendrickson nymph as well as other brownish Mayfly type nymphs #12-14 are working well throughout the entire river as they imitate the Hendrickson nymph, and also crossover to imitate Early Stones (still a few around). It can be a specific imitation, but it doesn't necessarily need to be (think GISS). It can be something brown with a Mayfly shape such as a Pheasant Tail/Quasimodo Pheasnant Tail, Frenchie (basically just a PT with a hot spot), a dark colored Hare's Ear, etc.- read 2 paragraphs down about "GISS" (general impression of size & shape).


If you are fishing wets/soft-hackles, try a 2-3 fly rig, on tag end droppers about 24-30" apart, and use a lightly to moderately weighted soft-hackle or nymph on the point position to get your rig down deeper where the trout are. During hatching activity where you see bugs and occasional rising trout, keep all your flies unweighted and fish near the surface. Throw across & slightly upstream and make an upstream mend to sink your flies, let them dead-drift (watch your fly line tip for subtle strikes), and then let them do the traditional wet fly swing- expect strikes especially at the 3/4 downstream point when your flies rise toward the surface. At the end of the drift let them dangle for several seconds, then twitch them up & down a couple of times. Add some slight rod tip twitches during some drifts, and on others just let them drift. Keep your rod tip up around 10 o'clock during the entire drift for tippet protection, and better hook-ups- this creates very slight controlled slack you need so trout can inhale your fly and not short strike it. This technique is great for covering riffle & pool water where the trout are spread out and can be anywhere, the kind of water that can be difficult/challenging to nymph.

Nymphs #12-18 imitating or suggesting Early Stones (black, brown), Hendrickson nymphs, Blue Wing Olives/Baetis, Blue Quills (Paraleps), and Caddis Larva (regular olive/green #14-16 & cased #10-14) have all had their moments, as well as attractor patterns (gaudy flies with hot spots, flash, UV materials, or unusual colors). It can be worth trying bigger #6-10 nymphs such as Stoneflies & Mops too- larger nymphs sometimes interest larger trout (more calories in a single bite, just like with streamers).  Remember that GISS (general impression of size & shape) is far more important than having an exact imitation, and sometimes exaggerated features like a hot spot or flash gets their attention better than a perfect imitation. Trout perceive our imitations differently than us humans do, so what looks good to YOU isn't necessarily what the trout prefer. We'd be lucky to catch any trout at all if our flies truly had to look just like the natural insects. If your fly size & shape/profile are close to the natural bugs, and the color is ballpark, all you then need is to put it in front of a willing trout with a good presentation. I've caught more trout than I can count during Hendrickson hatches on #12-14 Pheasant Tails & Frenchies. The shape (tails, slimmer abdomen, thicker thorax), color (brown) and size match up to the real bug. I've caught many a rising trout during a Hendrickson hatch on a #12-14 Parachute Adams after they refused a dozen different dun, emerger, cripple & spinner patterns.

In addition to the Hendrickson hatch, we are still seeing some #16-18 Blue Wing Olives (BWOs)/Baetis & Midges in the afternoons in the permanent TMA/Catch & Release. Also think about fishing a smaller nymph that looks like BWOs (#16-18, slim, olive to olive-brown to brown). They have been rising to bugs in some spots in the afternoons, so have the matching dries/emergers. There are still some Early Stones around (black, brown), as well as the Winter/Summer Caddis & Midges. If you see splashy rises, that is probably either Caddis or Stoneflies. Gentle sips are more typical of trout feeding on BWOs & Midges. 

Streamer fishing has really picked up, and lately black or olive have been top colors, but I'm also a fan of brown this time of year, and white can be very good also- experiment! Two tone streamers such a brown/yellow, olive/yellow, etc. can sometimes be the ticket. Try the following hybrid rig: a weighted streamer such as a conehead Bugger, Complex Twist Bugger, Zuddler, Slumpbuster, etc. with a #14-16 soft-hackle, wet fly or nymph trailed 14-18" of the hook bend- the streamer often functions as the attractor, and then the trout eat the trailing smaller fly. This helps turn some of those chases, rolls & flashes into a solid hook-up.

We got in a pile of flies from Fulling Mill & Umpqua recently, including some cool streamers we haven't carried before, check out Tommy Lynch's deadly D&D that swims like a Flatfish lure- fish it on a sink-tip/sinking leader/sinking line to get this unweighted pattern to the proper depth, the action/movement on this fly is INSANE. Weighted streamers like Woolly Buggers, Zuddlers, Slumpbusters, and Complex Twist Buggers all continue to produce fish if fished down deep. Try also streamers with Sculpin Helmets, bounced & twitched along the bottom on a floating line- deadly on bigger trout. Play with colors, fly size, pattern style, retrieve, depth, and cover lots of water and you should be able to find success

We've recently received BIG orders of assorted hooks from Umqua/Tiemco, Fulling Mill jig hooks, a huge Wapsi tying material order, lots more books including the hot new streamer book from Kelly Galloup "Modern Streamers for Trophy Trout II", a definitive new book on Brook Trout by Bob Mallard "Squaretail" (autographed copies), and lots of spin tackle. We are happy to mail order over the phone for you, or prepare a goody bag for curbside pick-up. Thank you all for the support you've shown our business since the CT shutdown of non-essential businesses, we appreciate every single sale/order you give us! Let's all stick together & stay safe as best we can.

Current Store Hours:
8am-5pm Monday through Friday, and 8am-5pm on weekends, "curbside pick up" only- we will be going to 8am-6pm eventually and will announce that on here when it happens. Call 860-379-1952 to place orders or have us put together your order for pick-up.

The Farmington is curently somewhat high but definitely fishable at 675cfs & through the Catch & Release (C&R) area and running in the mid/upper 40s for temperature in the afternoon- USGS historical normal flow for today is 475cfs. Riverton is 411cfs, and the Still River is adding in an additional 264cfs. 8am Riverton water temp was 43.5 degrees this morning, and it reached 45.5 degrees in late afternoon Thursday- downstream water temps in the C&R will be higher than this on milder/sunny days due to the Still River running warmer than the water from the dam.

Cortland's brand spankin' new Nymph Series Rods for Euro Nymphing are in stock. This series is all in a 10.5' length and three line weights: #2, #3, and #4, and retails at $299.99. These replace the extremely popular Competition Nymph Series. We have fished the new version in the 10.5' #3 model, and they are a noticeable improvement with a crisper action, faster recovery, more sensitivity, a downlocking reel seat for better rod/reel balance, and improved guide spacing to minimize line sag between the reel and the stripping (first) guide. The new construction also significantly improves the durability, and they maintained the stealthy matte finish to minimize rod flash on sunny days. You won't need a heavy reel to balance these either. I'm sure the #3 will be the best seller and it is the most versatile for all around Euro Nymphing, but the 2 weight is sweet with a soft tip that will protect 6x-7x tippet on big fish, and the #4 has the power to handle heavier tippets with bigger flies on bigger fish and can cross over as an Indicator nymphing rod too. This series looks like a real winner to us, and the best under $300 Euro rod on the market hands-down.

Thomas & Thomas's new Contact 10' #3 feels awesome in the hand, and it's a more portable length than it's longer brothers. Due to it being shorter than its 10' 8" & 11' 3" cousins, it has a crisper action that make it a very good choice for someone who likes to Euro nymph, but also likes to cross over and throw fly line with dries, wets, and small/medium streamers. Also good on smaller waters where the casting is restricted.

-Hendricksons #12-14: at least as far upstream as Campground now, maybe even higher
-Blue Wing Olives #16-18 (aka Olives, Baetis, BWOs, etc.)- afternoons 
-Summer/Winter Caddis #18-24: pupa & winged adults (early/mid AM, sometimes afternoons)
-Early Stones #14-16 (Black, Brown- a few, afternoons, esp. on milder days) 
-Midges #20-32 (late morn thru dusk) 

-BMAR Hendrickson Nymph #12
-Hendrickson Nymph #12-14- can be a specific imitation like the BMAR Hendrickson, or a brownish Mayfly nymph such as a Pheasant Tail, Frenchy, darker Hare's Ear, etc.
-Olive Nymphs #16-18
-Pheasant Tail/Quasimodos/Frenchies #12-18 (in #12-16 imitates Early Brown Stones/Hendricksons, smaller ones imitate smaller/immature Mayfly nymphs like BWOs, Blue Quill/Paraleps & others)
-Prince Nymph #12-16 (imitates Early Black Stones and is also an attractor nymph)
-Caddis Larva (olive to green) #14-16 
-Cased Caddis #10-14

-Perdigons #12-16 in black, brown, and olive (imitates the Early Stones, Hendricksons & Olives)
-"Junk Flies" #8-16 (Eggs, Mops, Squirmy/San Juan Worms, Green Weenies- great for fresh stockies)
-Zebra Midge #18-22 (black, red, olive)
-Attractor Nymphs #12-18 (Haast Haze, Rainbow Warrior, Blue Lightning Bug, Miller's Victim, 
   Triple Threat, Princes, etc.) -anything flashy, gaudy, or with a hot spot   
-Bigger Stoneflies/Pat's Rubber Legs #6-12 (gold/yellow, brown, black)       

Soft-Hackles/Wet Flies:
-Assorted Patterns #10-16: Hare's Ear, Partridge & Pheasant Tail, Partridge & Orange, Partridge & Flash, Starling & Herl, Leadwing Coachman, etc.

-BMAR Yellow Matuka #6
-Complex Twist Bugger #2- assorted colors
-Sculp Snack #8 (George Daniel pattern)
-Home Invader #2-6- tan, black, white, yellow 
-Foxeee Red Clouser Minnow #6
-Dude Friendly #8 (white, yellow, natural)
-Woolly Buggers #2-14 (black, olive, white, brown, tan)
-Rio's Precious Metal #4 (Kreelex copper, olive)
-JJ Special/Autumn Splendor/Tequeely #4-8
-Matuka #4-8 (olive, brown, yellow)

Cortland's "Top Secret" Ultra Premium Fluorocarbon tippet has a glass-smooth Plasma finish and is by far the best and strongest stuff out there: it has the most abrasion resistance, stretch, flexibility & clarity. Total game-changer, and an extra-good choice if you like to nymph with lighter tippets - here's a link to purchase it off our site: http://www.farmingtonriver.com/cortland-top-secret-ultra-premium-fluorocarbon/